Bad Religion

Bad Religion

Infobox musical artist 2
Name = Bad Religion

Img_capt = Bad Religion in Stockholm, 2004
Background = group_or_band
Birth_name =
Born =
Died =
Origin = Woodland Hills, California, United States
Instrument =
Genre = Punk rock
Hardcore punk [ [ Bad Religion: New Maps of Hell - Music - Citysearch ] ] [ [ Bad Religion Biography: Contemporary Musicians ] ] [ [ Bad Religion, page 1 - Music - Westword - Westword ] ]
Melodic hardcore [cite encyclopedia | title = Bad Religion | encyclopedia = The A to X of Alternative Music | author = Steve Taylor | publisher = Continuum | year = 2004 | id = ISBN 0826482171 | pages = pp. 22–23]
Progressive rock []
Years_active = 1980 - 1984
1986 - present
Label = Epitaph
Associated_acts = Bad4Good
Black President
Circle Jerks
Dag Nasty
Infectious Grooves
Minor Threat
Suicidal Tendencies
The Vandals
URL = [ Official Website]
Current_members = Greg Graffin
Brett Gurewitz
Greg Hetson
Brian Baker
Jay Bentley
Brooks Wackerman
Past_members = Jay Ziskrout
Davy Goldman
Tim Gallegos
Pete Finestone
John Albert
Lucky Lehrer
Bobby Schayer
Paul Dedona

Bad Religion is an American punk rock band, founded in Southern California in 1980 by Jay Bentley (bass), Greg Graffin (vocals), Brett Gurewitz (guitars) and Jay Ziskrout (drums). They are often credited for leading the revival of punk rock during the late 1980s, as well as influencing a large number of other punk and rock musicians throughout their career. In the 28 years since its inception, Bad Religion has had numerous lineup changes, and Graffin has been the only constant member; however, the band currently features three of the original four members.

To date, Bad Religion has released fourteen studio albums, two EPs, three compilation albums, one live recording, and two DVDs. Their 1988 album "Suffer" has been regarded by some critics as one of the most important hardcore punk albums of all time,cite web |url = |title = Bad Religion at] although it was not charted in Billboard. Bad Religion rose to fame with their 1994 major-label release "Stranger Than Fiction", which produced their well-known hit singles "21st Century (Digital Boy)" and "Infected". Following Gurewitz's departure in 1994, Bad Religion declined in popularity and poor record sales continued until the release of "The New America" in 2000. Gurewitz returned to the fold in 2001, making Bad Religion a six-piece band, and contributed to their three most recent albums. The band has discussed the possibility of recording their next studio album, which is expected to be released in June 2009,cite web
url =
title = Bad Religion looks ahead to 2009 album
author =
date = 2008-06-08
] and will also mark the first time that a Bad Religion line-up had not changed in four consecutive studio recordings.

They are particularly known for their sophisticated use of style, metaphor, vocabulary, imagery, and vocal harmonies (the "oozin' aahs"), whether reflective on matters of personal feelings or of personal or social responsibility.


Early career and hiatus (1980-1985)

Bad Religion was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1980 by high school students Greg Graffin (Vocals, keyboards), Jay Bentley (bass), Jay Ziskrout (drums), and Brett Gurewitz, also known as "Mr. Brett" (guitar). James O'Hanlon from New York filled in on guitar briefly as well while Brett was in the hospital with a broken leg. The band's major influences stemmed from earlier punk acts such as The Ramones, The Adolescents, Black Flag, The Germs, and The Sex Pistols. Outside of the punk scene, their influences ranged from Elvis Costello, The Jam, and Nick Lowe to authors like Jack Kerouac.

cite web
url =
title = Bad Religion's Punk Prosody
author = Sandy Masuo
date=September 1994

] Greg Graffin called his influences "pop sounding rock tunes that were not necessarily commercial."

cite video
people = Greg Graffin
title = Bad Religion Live at the Palladium
medium = DVD
publisher = Epitaph Records
date = 2005


In 1981, the band released their eponymous debut EP on the newly-formed label, Epitaph Records, which was and continues to be managed and owned by Gurewitz. 1982 saw the release of their first full-length album, "How Could Hell Be Any Worse?", gaining the band a sizable following. During the recording of "How Could Hell Be Any Worse?", Jay Ziskrout left the band and was replaced by Peter Finestone.

In 1983, the band released "Into the Unknown", a keyboard-driven progressive rock album that was enormously unpopular with the band's core fanbase. It is now officially out of print, after almost all of the 10,000 copies were surreptitiously sold out of the warehouse they were being stored in by Suzy Shaw, an ex-girlfriend of Gurewitz.

cite news
url =
title = Addicted to the Opiate of the Masses
author = Jo-Anne Greene
date=May 23, 1997

] The record has since become a collectors item, and has also gained acceptance from some fans. It can be seen going for more than 100 dollars on eBay, but is often pirated. A common sign of a pirated version of the LP is the bluish hue on the cover, instead of the reddish hue.

Also in 1983, the Mystic Records compilation album "The Sound Of Hollywood, Vol. 2" was released featuring two Bad Religion songs- "Every Day" and "Waiting For The Fire" which continued in the mellow acoustic/keyboard direction of the previous album. These songs are exclusive to this vinyl-only release which has been out of print for many years.

In 1984, Greg Hetson of Circle Jerks fame, who had played the guitar solo for "Part III" on "How Could Hell Be Any Worse?", teamed up with Graffin on the song "Running Fast" for the soundtrack of the film "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls". Originally credited to "Greg Greg" on the initial release, the 1997 CD reissue lists the artist as "Greg Graffin and Greg Hetson". Soon after, Graffin reassembled Bad Religion with Hetson replacing Gurewitz, who had gone into rehab for his drug problem. Bad Religion returned to a somewhat mellower, rock and roll version of their original sound with the "Back to the Known" EP, but disbanded temporarily soon after.

In 1985, Brett Gurewitz released a 5-song EP on Epitaph Records under the name "The Seeing Eye Gods". This psychedelic influenced record is long out of print and has never been released on CD.

Reunion (1986-1992)

The band slowly reformed out of the 1984 "Back to the Known" lineup when Greg Graffin called Jay Bentley and asked him to return. Bentley's response was tentative, but after being assured that the setlist consisted mostly of tracks from "How Could Hell Be Any Worse?", he agreed to return for one show, and ended up staying on because he had so much fun. A freshly rehabilitated Gurewitz was eventually convinced to come back aboard, and with Pete Finestone returning on drums and Greg Hetson on second guitar, Bad Religion was back.

The reunited band released "Suffer" in 1988, cementing their comeback in the punk community. Not only is this album often cited as one of their very best by fans, but it is credited with "saving" the Southern California punk rock scene by fans and Bad Religion's contemporaries alike.cite web |url = |title = Suffer |author = Bad Religion Homepage]

Bad Religion's next two albums, "No Control" (1989) and "Against the Grain" (1990), further increased the band's popularity, followed by "Generator" (1992). Before recording sessions for "Generator" commenced, drummer Pete Finestone left Bad Religion in 1991 to focus on his other band, The Fishermen, which had signed with a major label, and Bobby Schayer joined the band as his replacement.

Also in 1991, Bad Religion released a compilation album, "80-85", a repackaging of their debut album, "How Could Hell Be Any Worse?", their two EPs, "Bad Religion" and "Back to the Known" and the band's three track contributions to the "Public Service" EP. This compilation did not include "Into the Unknown". "80-85" is now out of print and has been replaced by the 2004 re-issued version of "How Could Hell Be Any Worse?" with the same track listings.

Mainstream success (1993-1995)

With alternative rock and grunge breaking into the mainstream, Bad Religion left Epitaph Records for Atlantic Records and quickly re-released their seventh full-length studio album "Recipe for Hate" (1993) on the major label. Also in 1993, the band recorded the song "Leaders and Followers" for the soundtrack for the Kevin Smith film, "Clerks". Their next album, 1994's "Stranger Than Fiction", subsequently became their most successful release, scoring hits with "Infected" and a re-recording of "21st Century (Digital Boy)", which was originally released on "Against the Grain". To date, "Stranger Than Fiction" remains another one of Bad Religion's best known albums, with sales continuing thirteen years after its release. On March 4, 1998, it also became the band's first RIAA certified gold record for sales of over half a million in the U.S. [cite web | last = | first = | url = | title = RIAA Certification (type in "Bad Religion" in the artist box) | format = HTML| work = RIAA | publisher = | accessdate = 2007-10-11]

Before the release of "Stranger Than Fiction", Gurewitz left the band. He officially cited the reason for his departure as the increasing amount of time he was needed at Epitaph as The Offspring became one of the biggest bands of the mid-1990s, but it was well known that his departure was not on good terms. Gurewitz, along with many fans, accused the band of selling out for leaving Epitaph to seek greater financial success despite the fact that Gurewitz was making millions off of The Offspring alone. [cite web |url = |title = The Higher Calling |author = Neal Rogers |date=1996-05-09]

As tensions increased, Graffin would sing alternate lyrics during concerts such as "I want to know where Brett gets his crack" or "I want to know why Gurewitz cracked," on the song "Stranger Than Fiction".cite web |url = |title = Stranger Than Fiction |author = The Bad Religion Page ] These barbs referred to Gurewitz's struggles with crack, heroin and other addictions which plagued him for years. Brett discussed his drug use in an interview on the band's "Suffer" tour documentary, "Along the Way", and is now clean and sober. In response, Gurewitz recorded a song with his new band The Daredevils entitled "Hate You", reportedly directed towards Jay Bentley.

Gurewitz was replaced as a guitarist by Brian Baker, a former member of bands such as Minor Threat and Dag Nasty. Since Greg Graffin and Gurewitz had split songwriting duties, Graffin was now Bad Religion's primary songwriter.

Sans Gurewitz period (1996-2000)

Bad Religion continued touring and recording without Brett Gurewitz and released three more albums for Atlantic, starting with "The Gray Race" (1996), produced by former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek. The album would score Bad Religion a minor U.S. radio hit with the song "A Walk" as well as the European release of "Punk Rock Song" (sung in both English and German). Fact|date=April 2007 The band would find its greatest success in Europe, where the album would reach the German music charts at #6 and score the band their first European gold record for sales in Scandinavia alone. Fact|date=April 2007


Bad Religion departed from Atlantic Records in 2001 and returned to Epitaph.

Reunion with Gurewitz (2001-2004)

In 2001, Brett Gurewitz rejoined the band in time to record "The Process Of Belief" (2002). Graffin states, "there was a little bit of disappointment on my part when he left the band, but we never had any serious acrimony between the two of us. I can't say the same for the rest of the band. But he and I, being the songwriters from way back, we really wanted to try again."

cite web
url =
title = The New State of Bad Religion
author = Jennifer Vineyard
date=May 11, 2000


Their next album, "The Empire Strikes First", was released in June 2004. Both albums are widely regarded by fans and critics as a return to form for the band, as opposed to their time on Atlantic.

The band also re-released digitally-remastered versions of several of their early albums on Epitaph Records, including "How Could Hell Be Any Worse?", "Suffer", "No Control", "Against the Grain", and "Generator". The "How Could Hell Be Any Worse?" re-issue, though reclaiming the original title of the band's debut LP, contained all of the same material as the previously issued "80-85" compilation, including their first EP, the "Public Service" EP (with different versions of the songs Bad Religion, Slaves, and Drastic Actions than the self-titled EP) and the "Back To The Known" EP.

Recent events (2005-present)

On March 7, 2006, a live DVD, "Live at the Palladium" was released. This DVD featured a live show performed in late 2004 at the Hollywood Palladium, as well as extensive interviews, several music videos, and a photo gallery. During one of the interview segments, guitarist Brett Gurewitz said the band's next album would be a double length release, but this turned out not to be the case.

Greg Graffin released his second solo album, "Cold as the Clay", on July 11, 2006.

Bad Religion's fourteenth (and most recent) studio album, "New Maps of Hell", was released on July 10, 2007. On June 29 of that year (Greg Hetson's 46th birthday), Epitaph Records started selling "New Maps of Hell" at the Warped Tour in Pomona, California. The album was a commercial success and spawned two hit singles "Honest Goodbye" and "New Dark Ages", and as a result, "New Maps of Hell" reached number 35 on the "Billboard 200", marking Bad Religion's highest ever chart position. Bad Religion also joined the 2007 Warped Tour to support the album.cite web
url =
title = Bad Religion Sign On For Warped Tour
author =
date = 2006-11-28

Hetson formed a supergroup band called Black President, consisting of Charlie Paulson (from Goldfinger), Jason Christopher, Wade Youman (both from Unwritten Law) and Christian Martucci (from Dee Dee Ramone).In the January issue of the magazine Alternative Press, it was revealed that their 14th album would be released in late spring 2007.cite web
url =
title = Greg Hetson, Charlie Paulson form Black President
author =
date = 2006-11-06

In early March 2008, Bad Religion played several-night residences at House of Blues venues in Southern California as well as Las Vegas. [cite web
url =
title = Bad Religion (California / Nevada)
author =
date = 2008-02-06
] They also played at the KROQ Weenie Roast (y Fiesta) on May 17 along such bands as Flobots, Metallica, The Offspring, Pennywise, Rise Against and Scars on Broadway. Following that, they are also scheduled to perform four European festival appearances in May and June. [cite web
url =
title = Bad Religion announce European festival appearances
author =
date = 2008-02-19

After touring, Graffin will be teaching at UCLA from January to March 2009. According to a recent interview with bassist Jay Bentley, Gurewitz has already begun writing new material for the next Bad Religion album. Bentley stated that the band plans to return to the studio after Graffin teaches UCLA to start work on the follow-up to "New Maps of Hell" planned for a June 2009 release.

On July 8, 2008, Bad Religion released their first-ever deluxe edition CD, a reissue of 2007's "New Maps of Hell". The deluxe version includes the original 16 song CD, along with seven new acoustic tracks recorded by Graffin (vocals) and Gurewitz (guitars/back vocals). Three of the acoustic songs are new, written specifically for this release; the other four tracks are new acoustic versions of BR songs. The release also includes a DVD with an hour-long live performance, music videos and behind-the-scenes footage.

Lyrics and ideology

The majority of Bad Religion's lyrics are written by either Greg Graffin or Brett Gurewitz. Only on rare occasions will they co-write a song. Other band members, such as Jay Bentley, also contribute songs, but these constitute only a small percentage of the Bad Religion catalog.

Brett Gurewitz acknowledges attempting to emulate The Germs singer Darby Crash early on in Bad Religion's lyrical style. "He wrote some intelligent stuff, and didn't shy away from the vocabulary, which I thought was cool."

cite web
url =
title = A Conversation with Mr. Brett
author = Matt Taylor and Mateo Rojas
date=September 27, 1996

] In addition to their use of unusually sophisticated vocabulary for a punk band, Bad Religion is also known for their frequent use of vocal harmonies, which they refer to in their album liner notes as the "oozin aahs". They took their cues from The Adolescents, in the way that they used three-part harmonies. Bassist Jay Bentley says, "Seeing The Adolescents live, it was so brilliant. So, in a way, the Adolescents influenced us into saying we can do it too, because look, they're doing it."

cite web
url =
title = Acting Their Rage
author = Trent McMartin
date = November 3, 2005


ocial and political issues

Many of Bad Religion's songs are about different social ills, although they try not to ascribe the causes of these ills to any single person or group. Greg Graffin believes that the current political situation in the United States can make it difficult to voice these concerns, as he doesn't want to feed the polarization of viewpoints.

cite web
url =
title = Brett Gurewitz Interview
author = Dennis Lyxzén
date = June 29, 2004


The band doesn't always restrict political commentary exclusively to metaphor. Brett Gurewitz pulled no punches when he attributed his anger towards US President George W. Bush as the major inspiration for "The Empire Strikes First". "Our whole album is dedicated to getting Bush out of office. I'm not a presidential scholar but I don't think you'll find a worse president in the history of the United States. He's probably one of the worst leaders in the history of world leaders. I just hate the guy."


quotation|Faith in your partner, your fellow men, your friends, is very important, because without it there's no mutual component to your relationship, and relationships are important. So faith plays an important role, but faith in people you don't know, faith in religious or political leaders or even people on stages, people who are popular in the public eye, you shouldn't have faith in those people. You should listen to what they have to say and use it.|Greg Graffin

cite web
url =
title = NYRock Interview with Greg Graffin
author = Gabriella of
date=April 1998

Despite the name of the band, the members do not consider themselves antitheist. Singer Greg Graffin states that more often than not, the band prefers to use religion as a metaphor for anything that doesn't allow for an individual's freedom to think or express themselves as they choose. In this way, their songs are more about anti-conformity than anti-religion.

cite web
url =
title = Graffin Interview
author = Kelly E. and Cathy D
date=October 15, 1993

] Greg Graffin himself is a naturalist, and co-author of the book 'Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?' Brett Gurewitz, however, is a "provisional deist". The band's bassist Jay Bentley has stated that he has spiritual beliefs. cite web
url =
title = Bentley Interview

Band members

Current members

*Greg Graffin – lead vocals (1980 – present)
*Brett Gurewitz – guitar, backing vocals (1980 – 1983, 1986 – 1994, 2001 – present)
*Greg Hetson – guitar (1984 – present)
*Brian Baker – guitar, backing vocals (1994 – present)
*Jay Bentley – bass, backing vocals (1980 – 1982, 1986 – present)
*Brooks Wackerman – drums, percussion (2001 – present)


Video Games

Tony Hawk (skateboarding) Series

The song "You" appeared in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, "Big Bang" appeared in Tony Hawk's Undergound, "We're Only Gonna Die" appeared in Tony Hawk's American Wasteland and "Social Suicide" was used in Tony Hawk's Project 8.

Crazy Taxi Series

The songs "Inner Logic", "Ten in 2010", "Them and Us" and "Hear It" were in Crazy Taxi.The songs "Punk Rock Song", "Empty Causes", "Hear It", "Inner Logic", and "Ten In 2010" were in Crazy Taxi 3. No Bad Religion songs appeared in Crazy Taxi 2 or Crazy Taxi Fare Wars.

Guitar Hero

The cover of the song "Infected" was featured in the game Guitar Hero and was downloadable for the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero 2.

NCAA Football

The song "Atomic Garden" appeared in NCAA 06.

Rock Band 2

The song "Sorrow" is featured as downloadable content in Rock Band and Rock Band 2.

External links

* [ Official Website]
* [ The Bad Religion Page] Fan website, established 1995.


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